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" A story worth telling, our annals afford." 

-C. Mnh: 
" A moral warfare with the crime, 

And fully of an evil time." — Whlttier. 

A bioi^raphy b}' one who was an 
eye-witness of some of the stormy 
scenes in the fifties, of the tierce con- 
flict then wao-ed between the pro- 
slavery and anti-slaver}^ parties, brings 
to mind many matters of interest to 
residents on both 
sides of the Great 
Lakes, (a) 

The author, Mr. 
Richard J. Hinton, 
was a trusted friend 
and adviser of Cap- 
tain John Brown, and 
writes with the au- 
thority of personal 
knowledge. He shows 
also an enthusiasm 
for the holy cause, 
and a personal affect- 
ion undiminished by 
the age that has 
passed since his hero 
gave up his brave 
life on the Charles- 
town gallows. 

But this period has 
not sufiiced for many 
of his contemporaries, 
whose personal feelings or fortunes 
were aflected by the turmoil which fol- 
lowed, to form an unbiased judgment 
of the character and career of John 
Brown, the man of sad and stern fur- 
rowed countenance, whose word was 
Spartan law to those who best knew 
him, and whose arm was ever strong 
and ready to shelter the oppressed and 
to crush the oppressor. 

Even in Canada, during the times 

(a) John Brown and His Men. By Richard J. Hinton. 
Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1894, New York and Toronto. 


de]:>icted by our author, some could 
have been found whose s^nnpathies 
were more with Bomija and Maximi- 
lian, the representatives of reaction, 
than with Garibaldi, free Italy, and 
piogressive Mexico. Some, too, there 
were among us, and perhaps still are, 
who regarded the period when the 
slave-masters ruled in Washington as 
the halcyon days of the Common- 

Few admirers of 
John Brown will be 
found among such 
readers. He was an 
iconoclast, who spared 
no idols, however ven- 
erable, who respected 
no authority whose 
creed was oppression, 
and regarded no form 
of belief as sacred, if 
by it the mind of man 
was in any way con- 

The fastidious will 
find it hard to realize 
a pure-blooded An- 
glo-Saxon not onlj'^ 
taking up the cause 
of the African with 
enthusiasm, but ex- 
hibiting no repul- 
sion from his sooty skin, and treat- 
ing the meanest slave as a broth- 
er. The descendant of the May- 
flower Puritan who had fled across 
the sea for conscience'-sake, him.self 
embarks on an ocean of moral con- 
flict, and is destined to be engulphed 
in its dark waves. 

There is one class of our people 

Brown as, 

that of a 

To their 

who look on the career of 
without doubt or gainsay, 
true patriot and saviour, 
minds, — 


"There sounds not to the trump of fame 
The echo uf a nobler name." 

Such, indeed, is the reverence and 
love of the African race for John 
Brown, hero of the Free Soil move- 
ment in Kansas, and leader of the 
Harpei" s Ferry raid. 

They know that he fell a willing 
martyr to the cause of freedom, and 
how full of consequence that event 
was to the lace he Joved. It was the 
Hash that tired the powder, the spark 
that kindled the blaze soon to light 
up all the land. 

Su))criiUendent {Bishop) of the B/\ii.E. Church. 

It will be my object now to show 
what part Canadians had in this mat- 
ter. As far back as March 24th, 1 84(J, 
in a letter written at Richmond, Ohio, 
John FJrown says : " Jason and I have 
talked of a visit to Canada next fall. 
We would like to know more of that 
country." Soon after this, he remov- 
ed to North Elba, Essex Co., New 
York, in the Adirondacks, in which 
beautiful and romantic region he made 
his liome. Here he raised his favorite 

Devon cattle and choice sheep, and 
aided colored people who came to set- 
tle on lands given them by Mr 
Gerrit Smith. His poetic spirit, 
lov'e of nature, and benevolence, had 
full and happy scope for a time. 
His teachings and example were 
greatly prized by his poor neigh- 
bors, who required both encourage- 
ment and a spur to activity in free 

Wherever Brown's lot was cast, his 
earnest, manly character was conspicu- 
ous. His letters to members of his 
family showed fatherly atftction 
most sincere, but abounded in les- 
sons urging to duty. Writing to 
his son Jolni, he says, " Say to 
Ruth, to be all that to-day which 
she intends to be to-morrow." 
His life was a living example of 
Carlyle's heroic words : " Not 
sport, but earnest, is what we 
should require. It is a most earn- 
est thing to be alive in this world : 
to die is not sport for a man. 
Man's life never was a sport to 
him ; it w^as a stern reality, alto- 
gether a serious matter to be 
alive." (a) 

The colony grew under Brown's 
inspiring spirit and Gerrit Smith's 
benevolence. Among refugees who 
lived there for a time was Walter 
Hawkins, a bright young colored 
man, who had escaped from Mary- 
land. In 1852, he removed to 
Canada, became honored and re- 
vered as a minister of the Gos- 
pel, and when he died in Juh^ 
1894, was Presiding Bishop of the 
British Methodist Episcopal Church. 
But the attacks of pro-slavery men 
from Missouri upon " free-soil " set- 
tlers in Kansas, called Brown and his 
devoted sons to aid in defending the 
cause of freedom there. He stood 
firm, and grim as a great rock, on the 
disputed territory. The waves of 
violence swept around him, carrying 
the worst elements engendered by 
slavery, but broke baffled at hi'i feet. 

(fl) Kroni " Ikroes and Hero Woisliip. 

x^;^:*?.; ri- 




" Before the monstrous wrong he set him down, 
One man against a stone-walled city of sin." 

He organized forces, obtained sup- 
plies, arms, and provisions from sym- 
pathisers in the Eastern States, and 
soon manfully, and with interest, 
avenged the attacks of the " Border 

The slaves in Missouri were scat- 
tered on the plantations, prevented 
from meetinii- or consultinu' toi^ether, 
and kept as ignorant and illiterate as 
possible. All hope for betterment 
was suppressed by cruel punishment, 
or removal to the far south, of those 
who showed any manliness. 

The Haytien proverb, " Zie blanc 
bouille negres," " The eyes of the 
whites burn up the negroes," was ex- 
emplified. The new territory of Kan- 
sas was fast filling with people, and 
elections were approaching which 
would decide whether the domain of 
slavery should be extended to it. 
That power never scrupled in the use 
of means to accomplish its ends. The 
Government of the United States, 
then in the hands of a temporizing 
president, and pro-slavery officials, 
failed to see fair play or to punish out- 
rage. Brown determined to fight fire 
with fire. He found promises broken, 
conventions and compromises only 
made and used as a means to forward 
the pro-slavery movement. He could 
see little use in conferences. " Talk 
is a national institution, but it does no 
manner of good to the slave," he would 
say. Slaves were in his eyes prison- 
ers of war; their masters, tyrants 
who had taken the sword and must 
perish by it. He took his Bible and 
the Declaration of American Indepen- 
dence as his guides. He fought in 
the spirit of Joshua and of (iideon, 
whose stories and characters had 
strong fascination for him. 

In December, 1858, Brown entered 
Missouri with two small companies of 
brave men. His lieutenants, John 
Henry Kagi and Aaron D. Stevens, 
who were both with him afterwards 
at Harper's Ferr}^ commanded one, 

and Brown the other. A negro called 
Jim had come and stated that he, 
with his wife and two children and 
another sla\e would be soon sold, and 
he begged for help. First these five 
slaves were liberated, then six other 
slaves, and two white nien were 
marched ofi". The companions joined 
and moved slowly back to the terri- 
tory, when the white men were re- 
leased. In the raid, Kagi's party had 
been opposed by Mr. Cruise, a white 
man, who was shot down by Stevens 
in self-defence, as he claimed, while 
endeavoring to detain a man-chattel. 
This was unfortunate, but is to be re- 
garded as an incident of the war, for 
such in fact, was the desultory con- 
flict that then raged in the western 
outskirts of the Republic. 

This invasion and bold attack on 
the " peculiar institution," in its home, 
raised a great connnotion. Brown 
and Kagi were proclaimed outlaws, 
and prices were put on their heads. 
They determined to carry the freed 
people to Canada. The retreat was 
through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, 
Illinois and Michigan, and was one of 
the boldest adventures of the cam- 
paign. After passing the village of 
Topeka with various incidents, shelter 
was found in an enjpty log cabin, 
where pursuers, headed by a United 
States marshal, overtook them. 

They remained on the defensive 
until a band of young men from To- 
peka joined them. At Hilton, or 
Muddy Creek Crossing, the marshal 
stationed himself with eighty armed 
men. Brown had only twentj^-three 
white men and three negroes. The wo- 
men were sheltered in the cabins with 
emigrant waggons in front of them. 
The little company formed in double 
file. At the word, " Now go straight 
at 'em boys, they'll be sure to run," 
Brown and his party marched cpiickly 
towai'ds the creek, but the foremost 
had not reached its margin, when the 
marshal rode ofi' in hot haste, follow- 
ed liy such of his men as could untie 
and mount their horses in time. " The 


scene was ridiculous bej'ond descrip- 
tion," says one of the party. " Some 
liorses were hastily mounted b}^ two 
men ; one man grabbed tight hold of 
the tail of a horse, trying to leap on 
from behind, wliile the rider was put- 
ting spurs into his sides, so he went Hy- 
ing through the air, his feet touching 
the ground noA^' and then." Those of 
our comrades who had horses followed 
them about six miles, and brought 
l.)aek four prisoners and five horses. 

The aiiray at Muddy Creek is known 
in the history of Kansas as " The 
Battle of the Spurs, as these instru- 
ments were the only weapons used. 
The reader will remember the more 
famous " Battle of the Spurs," of the 
year 4513, when the French fled, and 
some of their most noted men fell into 
the hands of the soldiers of Henry 
VIII. The prisoners were made to 
walk along beside their captors, Brown 
talking with them on the way concern- 
ing the wickedness of slavery. In 
the morning they were set at liberty, 
but their horses were contiscated, and 
given to the brave Topeka Boys. 

As the contrabands advanced into 
strange territory their remarks showed 
their simple aft'ectionate nature. One 
of the women pitied " poor massa 1 
he's in a bad fix ; hogs not killed, corn 
not shucked, and niggers all done 
o-one." A man driving the oxen, asked 
the distance to Canada, and was told 
that it was fifteen hundred miles. 
"Oh", golly! we uns never get dar 
befo' spring," he exclaimed, shouting, 
as he brought the goad down, " Git 
up dar, buck ; bung along 1" 

With manj^ adventures, the party 
pi-essed on towards the North. One 
of the women gave birth to a child on 
the way, which was named John 
Brown. One of the prisoners, taken 
en route, was a gay young medical 
man, a rattling blade, whom Brown 
took under his especial care, and gave 
him, under compulsion, more moral 
and religious training than he had re- 
ceived for years. On his return home 
he told his story, and said Brown was 

the best man he had ever met, and 
knew more about religion than any 

The party reached Detioit on 12th 
March, 1859, and crossed over to 
Windsor in Canada. Here these people 
settled and lived industriously. 

When the friend they loved so well 
suffered at Charlestown Court House 
a few months later, he had no mourn- 
ers more sincere than these lowly ones 
of the earth whom he brought to Can- 
adian manhood and freedom from 
Missouri an bondage. 

Samuel Harper, one of the band, 
lives now with his wife in a comfort- 
able cottage on Bruce avenue in 
Windsor. He says that he and she 
are the only survivors of the party of 
eleven, except the boy called after 
John Brown, who, now a man of 35 
years of age, lives at Detroit. Harper 
speaks very gratefully of Brown, say- 
ing, " I wash I was in a position to 
pay John Brown. Junior, one half 
what I owe his father, for what he 
did for us." He also speaks of the 
raid, and his old home, with the air 
of one who reviews the past and feels 
strongly. He said his " Boss " came 
after him to Windsor, and wanted him 
to go back, promising to treat him 
better than ever before. Harper was 
indignant, and replied : " I thought 
you was a smarter man dan dat, but 
I find you's a fool, come all dis way 
to ask me to go back to slavery." 

He told his story as follows. The 
statement is as accurate as can be ex- 
pected from one in the position of this 
freed man, after an age has pas.sed. 
The person he referred to as Stevens 
was sometimes called Whipple. He 
followed Brown to Harper's Ferry, 
and figured there as Capt. Aaron D. 
Ste\'ens. He was a man without fear. 
He was captured, as will be seen, after 
being wounded, and was tried and ex- 
ecuted under Virginia law, 

SAMUEL harper's STORY. 
" Way back een 1858, w'en Capt'iu Brown 
kem down inter INIissoureye," said Harpsr, 
" I was on'y 'bout 18 yeahs ole, but my wife 



ovah diir, she was 'bout 35. We kep' liearin' 
of de Capt'in takin' slaves away an' sendin' 
dera north, till Hn'lly, 'bout Christmas, we 
he'ad dat de Capt'in was nigh to de fa'ni we 
wuz Avorkin'. So we done sent him we'd 
dat we was awaitin' to be took away, an' a few 
weeks afterwa'ds the capt'in, with his part- 
ner Kagi, came at night wid a wagin, an' 
away we druv inter Kansas. 

" But it was mighty slow trabelin'. You 
see dey was severil difierent parties 'mongst 
ouali band, an' ouali niarsers had people look- 
in' all ovah for us. We'd ride all night, and 
den maybe, we'd hev ter stay severil days in 
one house ter keep from gettin' cot. In a 
montli we'd on'y got to a place near Topeka, 
which was 'bout forty miles from whar we 
started. Dey was .12 of us stoppin' at de 
house of a man named Doyle, besides de 
capt'in an' his men, w'en dere comes along 
a gang of slave huntahs. One of Capt'in 
Brown's men, Stevens, he went downtodem 
and sayed : — 'Gentlemen, you look 'sif you 
was lookin' fo' somebody o' somefin'. ' A'y, 
yas, ' says de leader, ' we think ez how you 
hav some uv ouah slaves up yondeh een dat 
'ere house.' 

" ' 'S that so ? ' says Stevens. ' Well, come 
on right along up wid me, an' you kin look 
hem ovah an' see ' 

" We wuz a watchin" this yere conve'sation 
all de time, an' w'en we see Stevens comin' 
up to de house wid dat 'ere man we jes' 
didn't know w'at to make of it. AVe began 
to git scared dat Stevens was goin' to give 
us up to dem slave huntahs. But de looks 
o' things changed w'en Stevens got up to de 
house. He jes' f)pened the do' long 'nough 
fer to grab a doubled-barreled gun. He pint- 
ed it at de slave huntah, an' says : 

" ' Yo' want to see yo"r slaves, does yo' ] 
Well, jes' yo' look up dem barrels an' see ef 
yo' kin find 'em.' 

"That man jes' went all to pieces. He 
drapped his gun. his legs was tremblin', an' 
de tears mos' sta'ted f'um hees eyes. Stevens 
took an' locked him up in de house. W'en 
de rest o' his crowd seen him capcha'ed, dey 
ran away 's fas' ez dey could go. Capt'in 
Brown went in to see de prisoner, an' .says 
to him, ' I'll show you w'at it ees to look 
aftah slaves my man.' Thet frightened de 
prisoner awful. He was a kind old fellow, 
an' wen he heerd Av'at de capt'in said, I 
s'pose he thought he was goin' to be killed. 
He began t(j cry an' beg to be let go. Da 
capt'in he only smiled a leetle bit, and talked 
some mo' to him, an' de next day he was 
let go. 

" A few days afterwards, the United States 
Marshal came uj), with another gang to cap- 
cha us. Dar was 'bout 75 of dem, an' dey 
surrounded de house, and we was all'fraid 
we was goin' to be took for sure. l'>ut de 
capt'in he jes' said, 'Git ready, boys, an' 

we'll w'ip 'em all.' Dar was onh'y 14 of us 
altogetlier, but de capt'in was a terror to 
'em, an' w'en we stepped out o' de house an' 
went for 'em de hull saiventy-five f)f 'em 
sta'ted runnin'. Capt'in Brown an' Kagi an' 
some others cha.sed em, an' capclia'ed five 
prisoners. Dar was a doctah an' a lawyah 
amongst 'em. Dey all lied nice ho'ses De 
capt'in made 'em all get down. Den he told 
five of us slaves to mount de beasts an' we 
rode 'em w'ile de wite men hed to walk. It 
was early in de spring, an' de mud on de 
roads was away over dere ankles. I jes' tell 
you it was mighty tough walkin', an' you 
ken b'lieve dose fellers had enough of slave 
huntin'. De next day de capt'in let 'em all 


" Ouah massers kep' spies watchin' till we 
crossed de border. W'en we got to Si)ring- 
dale, loway, a man came ter see Capt'in 
Brown, an' tole him dey wuz a lot of his 
fren's down in a town in Kansas dat wanted 
to see him. The capt'in said he did not care 
to go down, but ez soon 's the man started 
b.ack, Capt'in Brown follered him. W'en he 
came back he said dar was a hull crowd 
comin' up to capcha us. We all went up to 
de school house an' got ourse'v's ready to 

" De crowd came an' hung aroun' de 
school 'ouse a few days, but dey didn't try 
to capcha us. De gov'nor of Kansas, he 
telegraphed to de United States Ma'shal at 
Springdale : — 'Capcha John Brown, daid or 
alive.' De Ma'shal, he ans'ed : ' Ef I try to 
capcha John Brown, it'll be daid, an' it'll be 
me dat'll Ije daid.' Fin'ly those Kansas 
people went home, an' den dat same Ma'- 
shal put us in a carh an' sent us to Chicago. 

" It took us over three months to get to 
Canada. If I'd knowed dat de slaves was 
a goin' to be freed so soon as dey was, I'd 
never a come to Windsor. W'y \ Cos I 
could a bought Ian' down dar een Missour- 
eye fo' 25 cents an acre, an' de climate is 
much l)ettah dan up heah 

" W'at kin' of a man was Capt'in Bro" n \ 
He was a great beeg man, ovah six feet tall, 
with great beeg shouldehs, and long hair, 
white ez snow. He was a vairy (piiet man, 
awful quiet. He never e\ en laughed. After 
we was freed, we was wild of ct> se, and we 
used to cut up all kinds ol) foolishness. But 
de capt'in 'ud always hiok as solemn ez a 
graveya'd. Sometimes he jes' let out de 
tiniest bit of a smile, an' say : ' You'd bet- 
tah quit yo' foolin' an' take up y<mr book.' 

" D(! capt'iii's son, John Brown, Jr , lives 
down to Put-in Bay Island. He raises grapes 
down dere. an' we goes down to see him 
every summah. He hez a nice family, an' 
he's always glad to see hees ole frens." 

How often Brown had been in Can- 
ada before thi.s time does not appear 



l)Uthis visits and correspondence with 
people of color, and others liere, were 
frequent, and all with the one end in 

As the tirae ^rew ripe, Chatham and 
St. Catharines were the places where 
the conspirators in the cause of free- 
dom met to perfect their plans. In 
St. Catharines was then a wonderful 
woman, Harriet Tubman. She was a 
Maryland negress, who had escaped 
from slavery, went back from time to 
time, and brought away her old father 
and mother, her brother's wife and 
children, and many others, some of 
whom are still living in Canada. She 
gained the name " Deborah " and 
" Moses," for saving her people from 
bondage. In a conversation between 
Captain Brown and Wendell Phillips, 
in 1858, the former called her " the 
General of us all," and said she had 
led two thousand slaves from bondage 
to northern freedom. She is also re- 
ferred to as " The woman " in letters 
of the period, written when it was 
deemed best not to mention true names 
of confederates. When the raid at the 
Ferry was made, she was residing at 
Chambersburg, Pennsjdvania. 

Southern people, who lost valuable 
chattels through her daring efforts, 
offered Si 0,000 reward for her, dead 
or alive. Frederick Douglas, Gerrit 
Smith, and other friends, warned her 
of the danger she incurred, but she re- 
plied, " God will take care of me, whe- 
ther in the North or in the South." 
She was of unmixed blood, and of ver}^ 
negrine features She was a wise and 
faithful agent of the " Underground 
Kailroad,' and ailviser of her people, 
till the Avar opened another field of 
usefulness, when she enlisted as an 
hospital or army nurse. This heroine 
lived at Auburn X.Y., subse<]uently, 
but is since dead. The story of her 
life was published in a small volume. 
Mrs Tubman was one of Brown's 
Canadian advisers and co-workers in 
the anti-slavery movement. 

On the twelfth d.iy of May, 1858, 
he wrote to his wife from Chatham. 

the seat of law of the county of Kent : 
" Had a grand abolition Convention 
here, from different parts, on the 8th 
and 10th inst. Constitution slightly 
amended and adopted, and Society or- 

After the Convention, Brown wrote 
the letter to one of his sons given at 
end of this article, under name of 
James M. Bell. 

The names of the members of the 
Chatham Convention were : William 
Charles Monroe, G. J. Reynolds, J. G. 
Grant, A. J. Smith, James Monroe 
Jones, George B. Gill, M. F. Bailey, 
William Lambert, S. Hunton, JoJin J. 
Jackson, Osborne P. Anderson, Alfred 
Whipper, C.W. Moffett, James M. Bell, 
W. H. Lehman, Alfred M. Ellsworth, 
John E. Cook, Steward Taylor, Jame.-< 
W. Purnell, George Akin, Steplien Det- 
tin, Thomas Hick"rson, John Cannel, 
Robinson Alexander, Richard Realf, 
Thomas F. Gary, Richard Richardson, 
Luke F. Parsons, Thos. M. Kennard, 
Jeremiah Anderson, J. H. Delaney, 
Robert Van Vaiden, Thos. M. String- 
er, Charles P. Tidd, John A. Thomas, 
C. Whipple, alias Aaron D. Stevens, 
,/. D. Shadd, Robert Newman, Owen 
Brown, John Brown, J. H. Harris, 
Gharles Smith, Simon Fislin, Isaac 
Holden, James Smitli, and John H. 
Kagi ; the Secretar^^, Dr. 21. R. De- 
laney, was a corresponding member. 
The members whose names aie in 
italics were colored men. 

The preliminary meeting was held 
in a frame cottage on Princess-street, 
south- of Kino-street. This cottage was 
then known as the " Kmg-street 
School," and is now a dwelling-house. 
Some meetings were also held in the 
First Baptist Church on the north 
side of King-street. Pretence was 
made in orderto mislead the inquisi- 
tive, that the persons assembling were 
organizing a Masonic Lodge of colored 
peoj^le. But the most important pro- 
ceedings took place in what was 
known as " No. 3 Engine House," a 
wooden building near McGregor's 
'"'reek, erected bv Mr Holden and 


other colored men. Tlie sketch of this 
is given by Mr. •). M. Jones from 

It is a remarkable coincidence that 
Brown laid his plans in this Chatham 
Fire Engine Hall, and was ca])tured 
in another tire hall at Harper's Ferry. 

The Convention met on the 8th of 
May, 1858, at 10 a.m, It had been 
convened by notes from John Brown 
to whom he desired to attend. 
There was scant ceremony at the open- 
ing proceedings by these earnest men. 
They were of two colors, but of one 
mind, and all were equal in degree 
aud station here. No civic address of 
welcome to the Canadian town, no 
beat of drum, or firincr of ouns, was 
heard. The place was rude and un- 
adorned. Yet the object of the mem- 
bers of this little parliament was to 
gain freedom for four millions of 
slaves. Many of those here convening 
had already done, in self-sacrifice and 
in lirave deeds, a fair share in the 
work. The result was destined to 
prove a factor of historical importance 
in the future of the American people 

The following is a cop}' of one of 
the invitations to attend : 

Chatham, Canada. 

May 5th, ]cS58. 
My Deae Friend, 

I have called a '/i/hA Convention in 
this place of true friends of freedom. Your 
attendance is earnestly requested on the 10th 
inst. * * * 

Yovu" friend, 

JoHX Bkowx. 

The motives causing Brown to 
choose this. Canadian 'town as the 
place of meeting will be obvious when 
we regard the position. There were 
at this time, as Mr. Hinton estimates, 
seventy-five thousand colored people 
in Canada. This number was more 
than were really here : Upper Canada 
held 40,000; Toronto, \;1Q0. Some 
of these citizens were in good circum- 
stances, and were free-born ; many of 
them were intelligent, and A\'atching 
with lively interest the state of affairs 
in the Republic, relating to their race. 

Settlements of immigrant negroes 
had been for a score or more of years 
gradually growing in various parts of 
the Upper Province, among these be- 
ing Amherstburg, Colchester, and Mai- 
den on the western extremity. The 
(^)ueen's Bush in the townships of Peel 
and Wellesley was an important set- 
tlement, containing many well-to-do 
colored men. The cities of London, 
Hamilton, and St. Catharines, had 
their share. Dresden was an import- 
ant centre, where Josiah Henson, best 
known as the " original Uncle Tom," 
held patriarchal swa}', and had, with 
aid from England and New England, 
established the Dawn Institute, or 
Manual Labor School. 

The Rev. William King had been 
laboring at Buxton, near the shore of 
Lake Erie, since 1848: had founded 
there, under the name of the Elgin As- 
sociation, a model colony, where the 
poor fugitive came, weary and foot- 
sore, from his race for freedom, found 
shelter, and made himself a home. 

Near this was Chatham, the chief 
town of the county of Kent, whose 
rich soil and moderate climate had at- 
tracted many dusky immigrants. Not 
a few of them had become well-to-do 
farmers. Others engaged in trade, or 
labored as mechanics. Their children 
were educated at the Wilberforce In- 
stitute, a graded school. In this count}' 
especially was the problem being woi'k- 
ed out, as to the capacity of the African 
to take equal place with the Anglo- 
Saxon in the race of civilization. 
In addition to the educational facil- 
ities, the colored folk of Chatham 
had churches of their own, a news- 
paper, conducted in their interest by 
Mr. I. D. Shadd, an accomplished col- 
ored man, and societies for social in- 
tercourse and improvement, in which 
their affairs were discussed, mutual 
wants made known, and help provid- 
ed. But there were also here and 
elsewhere, at each centre of colored 
population, meetings and discussions 
of a more earnest character: Conduc- 
tors of the "Underground Railroad." 


an organization whose influence in aid 
of the fleeing slaves, was felt from the 
lakes and St. Lawrence River to the 
centre of the slave populations, were 
often seen here. The " League of the 
Gileadites," as tirst formed by Brown 
in 1851. enlisted in its ranks many a 
courageous, freedom loving man, and 
had some members in Western Can- 
ada. The name was taken from Judges 
vii. 3 : " Whosoever is fearful or afraid, 
let him return and depart early from 
Mount Gilead." Members, when join- 
ing each band, agreed to provide suit- 

and an engine manned by colored 
men. This town, liearing the name 
of England's great Prime Minister, 
was well chosen as the seat of the 

The writer has obtained much of 
his information as to the events de- 
scribed in Canada, by incjuirj?^ from 
persons who were parties to them, or 
members of the Convention. To gain 
this was not a matter of course. The 
secrets which many of the old col- 
ored men had were often of vast im- 
portance to them in time of slavery. 

JWin. 3muyt sTav tri . fj-Ti j 

B.^cn MaU.Jr'i. ^— ' 

C SaAiti^t <l^u.r ek, Colour t el 
I'.Olcl KnxcSt Sck.U. 
r Prese ni Wdht rfc nt Tr, siitute 


.-5ITK OF llll. CllATliA.M CONVKMION, 1 S.')S. 

able im])lements (meaning weapons), 
and to aid all colored people in gain- 
ing freedom and resisting attack. 

Such were some of the elements that 
then largely influenced the colored 
people here. They were fairly indus- 
trious, happy under British law, and, 
as Brown afterwards found, the great- 
er portion of them were so occupied 
in seeking a livelihood and compe- 
tence, that they hesitated or refused 
to risk many chances in a cause and 
struggle the result of wliicli was dim 
and doubtful. 

Not to be behind their white neigh- 
bors, they had a tire hall in Chatham, 

They had escaped, sometimes witli a. 
struggle, and even bloodshed. Some 
had boldly gone back from their 
Canadian homes, and guided kinsmen 
or friends on the M'ay to freedom. 
Of the acts of daring so done there 
was no open boasting. Secrecy was 
for years expedient, and so became 
habitual. A colored man of edu- 
cation and position acknowledged 
that he still met this feeling when 
making inijuiries for the writer as to 
the Convention. "I And it very difli- 
cult, " he writes, " to obtain any infoi'- 
ination from our people. We can not 
blame them nnich, because, in the 


course of two hnndred aud fifty years 
of intercourse with the Anglo-Saxon, 
they have not formed a very favor- 
able opinion of him. When it comes 
to prying into the old-time secrets, 
they always think there is a cat in 
the meal, so you must make allow- 
ance and bear with them." 

And now we return to the Conven- 
tion. The leading spirit was John 
Brown, a man with well-set muscular 
form, of average size, his hair prema- 
turely grey, closely trimmed and low 
on the forehead. His eyes bluish- 
grey, were, w'hen he warmed in 
speech, full of fire. His face, with 
beard unshaven, and covering a stron^f, 
square mouth, with broad and prom- 
inent chin. His general appearance 
is thus descx'ibed by Frederick Doug- 
lass and others. He was born on the 
9th of May, 1800, of blue, New Eng- 
land blood, with descent from Peter 
Brown, who came in the Mayflower 
to Plymouth Rock in 1620 ; lived in 
Duxbury, near the hill where Miles 
Standish's house was built, and where 
his monument may now be seen. 
John Brown was of Calvinistic creed, 
and with a tendency to fatalism ; with 
the taciturnity, wariness and contempt 
of danger of a Mohawk ; an admirer 
of Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips, 
Emerson and Sumner, apostles of 
Emancipation and opponents of South- 
ern aggression. He was of great 
natural intelligence, and well read, 
especially in history, but not college- 
bred, tie had travelled in Europe, 
and was interested in foreign affairs. 
He was full of affection to his family, 
and ever constant to his friends. But 
the cause of liberty had the foremost 
place in his heart and soul. Quoting 
from Cowper, he could say : 

• " 'Tis liberty alone that gives the tlower 
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume. 
And we are wteds without it." 

It was not of his own choice that he 
left his farm, and went into the 
bloody arena. One who met him be- 
fore the Harper's Ferry affair, wrote : 
" Stranger than tictiou have been his 

escapes and exploits in Kansas. Com- 
bining the gentlenej-s of a Christian, 
the love of a patriot, and the skill 
and boldness of a commander, whether 
ending his career in the (juiet of home, 
or bloody strife, the freeman of Kan- 
sas will liallow his memory, and his- 
tory will name him the Cromwell of 
our Border Wars.* 

He was of earnest and stern re- 
solve, brave and true, Brown's .sons 
inherited his Spartan spirit. With 
six of them, and a son-in-law, he had 
done a hero's part to save Kan.«as, 
and now he proposed to formulate 
bold plans for the future, before trust- 
ed adherents. 

John Henry Kagi was a lawyer by 
profession, and full of zeal in the cause. 
He was his leader's right hand in and in the Convention, lie 
aided in drawing the Constitution. 
He returned to the West, was in the 
raid in Missouri, and ended his life at 
Harper's Ferry. Capt. John E. Cook 
was from Indiana, well connected, 
and much trusted by Brown. He 
also fell in the final contest in Vir- 
ginia. Owen Brown was the son of 
John Brown. Richard Realf was an 
English Chartist, of good literary 
ability. Rej-nolds was an active mem- 
ber of the Gileadite, or liberty League. 
The Convention was called to order 
by Mr. Jackson, on whose motion 
the Rev. William C. Monroe, a colored 
minister from Detroit, was chosen 
President, and Capt. Kagi was elected 
Secretary. Mr. Brown then proceeded 
to state at iength the object of the 
meeting, and the proposed plan of 
action, and presented a paper entitled 
" Provisional Constitution and Ordi- 
nances for the People of the United 
States." Before this, on motion by 
Mr. Kennard, seconded b}' Mr. De- 
laney, a parole of honor was taken 
by all the members, who each de- 
clared ; " I solemnly affirm that I will 
not, in any way, divulge an}' of the 
secrets of this Convention, except to 
the per.-ons entitled to know the 

-Redpaths Life of Brown, p. 225. 



jscinie, on the pain of forfeiting tlie 
respect anrl protection of this organi- 

The plan unfolded sought no war 
of o fence against tlie South, but to 
restore to the African race its natu- 
ral rights, and to enable it to en- 
force and maintain them ; not negro 
supremac3^ but citizenship. There 


was much discussion over the article 
finally adopted as No. XLVI., which 
was as follows : " The foregoing ar- 
ticles shall not be construed so as in 
any way to encourage the overthrow 
of ' any State Government, or the gen- 
eral (Jo\ernment of the United States, 
and look to no dissolution of the 
Tnion, but simply to amendment and 
repeal, and our flag shall be the same 
that our fathers fought for under the 

Article XL\'III. provided that every 
otficev connected with the organiza- 
tion should make solenni oath to abide 
by the Constitution, and so with each 
citizen and soldier, before being en- 

Among the chief speakers were, 
John Brown, and Messrs. Delaney, 
Kagi, Kennard,Reynolds,Owen Brown, 
Realf and Jones. On motion of John 
Brown, a resolution was passed ap- 
pointing himself, with J. H. Kagi, 
Richard Realf. 1. ^I\ Parsons, V. P. 
Tidd, C. Whipple. ('. \V. Moflat, John 
K. Cook, Owini Brown, Steward Tay- 
lor, Osborne P. Anderson, A. U. Ellis- 
worth, Richai-d Richardson, W. H. 
Lehman, and John Lawrence, a com- 
mittee to whom was di-legated the 
jiower of the Convention to till all of- 
fices named in the constitution which 
shouhl become vacant. W'Ikii the iiai-- 

[)ers Ferry att'air took i)lace, Thomas 
F. Carey was chairman, and I. D. 
Shadd and M. F. Bailey Avere secre- 
taries of this counnittee. The mem- 
bers of the Convention stayed about 
two weeks in Chatham. John Brown 
and Kagi visited other Canadian towns 
also, to see coloured men, and to inter- 
est them in the grand project. 

Some months before the Conven- 
tion, Mr. Brown visited Toronto and 
held meetings with them in Temper- 
ance Hall, and also met many at the 
house of the late Mr. Holland, a col- 
ored man, on Queen-street west. On 
one occasion. Captain Brown remain- 
ed as a guest with his friend Dr. A. 
M. Ross, who is distinguished as a 
naturalist, as well as an intrepid aboli- 
tionist, who risked his life on several 
occasions in excursions into the South 
to enable slaves to flee to Canada. Dr. 
Ross has been honored with titles and 
decorations from several European 
governments on account of his valu- 
able contrilnitions to science, but, 
above all these, he prizes the fact that 
he was the trusted friend of John 

Di-. Ross speaks of the hero with 
the deepest love and admiration. He 
describes him as walking with noise- 
less tread, his eyes intent and watch- 
ful, and body bent somewhat forward, 
ar if in search of an object : his 
speech well-guarded — all this the ef- 
fect of the life of danger he had led 
with a reward offered for his head. 
But in the evening at the Doctor's 
house, reserve was thrown otf, as he 
conversed with the few friends who 
were called in, and when the children's 
hour came, the grim warrior was all 
smiles, and the little ones gathered 
around him as he told them stories and 
made "shadow i-abbits " on the wall, 
and then, kneeling on the carpet, hidp- 
ed them to build block-houses. Dr. 
Ross saw him on board the steamer 
bound for Niagara, on a Monday 
morning about the middle of May, 
when Brown bade him an aflectionate 
adieu, took out a "York slulling," and 


1 1 

handed it to liiiii, saying, ''' Keep this, 
and whenever yuu see it, j^ou'll re- 
member John Brown." It is needless 
to say that the little silver piece is 
treasured by the Doctor as one of his 
most valued possessions. 

Dr. Ross had known Brown intim- 
ately' for three years j^revious to his 
death. " His manner and conversa- 
tion, " sa3"s the Doctor, " had a mag- 

aflectionate letter. I aia sorry your eflorts to 
reacli tlii.s place have been unavailing. I thank 
you for your faitiifulness, and the as.surance 
you give me that my poor and deejjly afflicted 
family will be provided for. It takes from 
my mind the cause of sadness I have 
experienced since my imprisonment. In a 
few liours I .shall be in another and better 
state of existence. I feel (piite clieerful, and 
ready to die. My dear friend, do not give 
up }^)ur labors for "the poor that crj", and 
them that are in bonds." 

netic influence, which rendered him Jf • t^ x 

attractive,and stamped him as "/^"^^t^C^-L^^^^r/A-^f /j^ ^ ^^jP^^ 
of more than ordinary coolness, tena /x^ ^ ^f /^ 

city of purpose, and devotion to what 
he considered I'i^ht. He was, in m}" 
estimation, a Christian, in the full of that word. No idle, jirofane, 
or immodest word fell from his lips. 
He was deeply in earnest in the work, 
in which he believed himself a special 
instrument in the hands of God." He 
had for many years been studying the 
guerilla system of warfare, adopted 
in the mountainous portions of Spain 
and the Caucasus, and, in a ruder man- 
ner, by the Maroons of Jamaica, and 
by that system he thought he could, 
with a small bod}' of picked men, in- 
augurate and maintain a negro insur- 
rection in the mountains of Virginia, 
more successful than that of the Ro- 
man Spartacus, and cause so much 
annoj'ance to the United States Govern- 
ment, and dread in the minds of slave- 
holders, that they would ultimately be 
glad to " let the oppressed go free." 

The Doctor also has the original of 
the remarkably prophetic lines which 
John Brown wrote, just before he was 
led out to die on the following day : 

" Charle.sto\vx, Va., 

December, 2, 1859. 
I, John Brown, am now (/iftfe certain that 
the crimes of "this yuilty land will never be 
washed away except with much blood. I 
had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself, 
that without much bloodshed it might "be 

John* Bkowx. 

Dr. Ross has a farewell letter, writ- 
ten to him by John Bi-own the day 
before his execution. It is as follows : 

Mv Dear Friend — Captain Avis, my jail- 
er, has just handed me your most kind and 

Charleston Jail, \ 

Deceud:)er, 18.Mt. 

It may be well here to give a shoi-t 
account of Browns three leading suj)- 
portei-s at the Convention: — First 
came John Henr}' Kagi, of old Virginia 
stock, attractive in person, and of ani- 
mated, even magnetic address. He 
had, our author states, just pa sed the 
seventh month of his twenty-fourth 
year, when slain at Harper's Ferry. 
" He had more the appearance of a 
divinity student than a warrior." His 
language Avas elegant, his deportment 
unassailable : his habits, strictly tem- 
perate ; kind in his feelings to every- 
one, especially to children, whose con- 
fidence he acquired at first acquaint- 
anc ." M)-. Hinton graphicall}' recalls 
his friend as a man of personal beauty, 
with a fine, well-shaped head, a voice 
of gentle, sweet tones, that could be 
penetrating aii"! cutting, too, to 
sharpness. The eyes largo, full, well- 
set, hazel-gre}'' in color, irridescent in 
light and effect. Mentally, he Avas the 
ablest of those who supported Brown 
in council, and followed him to Har- 
per's Ferry. George B. Gill, wlio was 
associated with Kagi in the cause, said 
of him : — " In mental fields, he pos- 
sessed abundant and ingenious re- 
sources. He was full of a wonderful 
vitalit}^ His was a model disposition. 
No strain or stress couM shake his un- 
ruffled serenitv. Hi.^ ft rtilitv of re- 



sources made liiin a tower of strength 
to John Brown." 

Next in importance to Captain 
Kagi was Captain John E. Cook, born 
in 1880, of Puritan ancestry, at Had- 
dam, Connecticut. He was thus de- 
scribed when in his ceb, from whence 
he was taken to the gallows : " His 
long silken blonde hair curled care- 
lessl}'^ about hs neck; his deep blue 
eyes were gentle in expression as a 
■woman's, and his slightly bronzed com- 
plexion did not conceal the soft effem- 
inate skin that would have befitted 
the gentler sex. He was small in 
stature, nervous and impatient." Mr. 
Hinton, who knew him well, says, 
" ( ook never lacked the courage which 
Napoleon termed the ' three o'clock in 

from the millions who have but just 
cast aside the fetters and shackles that 
bound them. But ere that day ar- 
rives, I fear that we shall hear the 
crash, the battle shock, and see the 
red glare of the cannon's lightning. 
.... Inclosed, you will tind a few 
flowers that I gathered in my rambles 
about town." 

On the 3rd of July, 1859, he writes, 
" I shall start up among the mountains 
to gaze upon the grand and beautiful. 
.... God's blessed air sweeps over 
them, and the wands, as it w^ere, 
breathe a mournful song of liberty. . . . 
Time passes slowdy, as I idle thus. 
Heart and soul are all absorbed in the 
thought of what I owe my country 
and my God. . . . To-morrow is the 


the morning.' Cook formed the plan 
for capturing Lewis Washington, and 
obtaininjx his historical relics. He 
also advocated the seizure of Harper's 
Ferry, wanted to Vjurn the buildings 
and railway bridges, carrying off such 
United States arms as their means of 
transport would allow " He went 
with Brown from Canada to Cleve- 
laml. Writing soon after the conven- 
tion, he said : ' The prospects of our 
cause are prowino- brighter and 
brighter. Through the dark gloom 
of the future I almost fancy I can see 
the daAvning light of freedom break- 
ing through the mi<lnight darkness of 
wrong and oppression. I can almost 
hear the swelling antliem of liberty 

Fourth ! the glorious day which saw 
our Freedom's birth, but left sad hearts 
beneath the slave lash and clanking 
chain ... .1 feel self-condenuied when 
I tliink of it. The contents of the 
cup may be hitter, but it is our duty ; 
let us drain it to tlie very dregs." 

On the lOtli of August, he wrote in 
a like exalted strain, enclosing some 
stanzas, beginning : 

" We see the gathering tempest in the sky, 

We see the l)lack ch)ud.s as aln g they roll, 

We sec from outthegloon>theli>4lituing.sfly, 

O'urthrowing all who would their course 


Aaron Dwight Stevens had been a 
subaltern in the United States army, 
when an othcer unjustly treated a pri- 



vate, and was about to punish him 
cruelly. Stevens witnessing this, be- 
came indignant, knocked the officer 
down and deserted from Fort Leaven- 
worth. He changed his name to con- 
ceal his identity, and when with 
Brown, was known as Charles Whip- 
ple. He was a native of Connecticut, 
riis great grandfather was a revolu- 
tionary officer, and his grandfather 
served in the war of 1812. He fought 
gallantly in the Mexican war, and 
afterwards helped to keep the Navajo 
and Apache Indians in check. When 
he deserted, he, for a time, concealed 
himself among the Delawares on the 
Kaw River, then joined the Free Soil 
men in Kansas under his assumed 
name. He stood six feet two inches 
in his stockings, and was well propor- 
tioned. His eye was restless and 
brilliant. His qualities were soldierly, 
and he would have won fame under 
happier auspices 

He was prone to hasty anger and 
passionate action, the " Simon Peter " 
of the party, and this sometimes called 
for rebuke from his leader, who, on 
the day of his death, wrote him as 
follows ; 

Charleston Prison, 2nd Dec, 1859. 
John Brown to Aaron D. Stevens, 

"He that is slow to anger is better than 
the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than 
he that taketha city." — Solomon. 

The hint, so singularly given, had 
the effect, perhaps, of aiding Stevens 
in curbing his temper during his te- 
dious trial and imprisonment. Unlike 
his leader, Stevens had not the Chris- 
tian faith to console him. " He died," 
says Mr. Hinton, " a devoted Spirit- 
ualist, believing absolutely in the 
immortality of life." It would be en- 
croaching too much on the biographer, 
and would be beyond n)y present 
scope, were I to attempt more at length 
to depict the strong, sterling charac- 
ters, of both colors, drawn together by 
the wonderful magnetism of our hero. 

Only one colored man of remark- 
able courage may be mentioned, 

Shields Green, " with Congo face, big 
misplaced words and huge feet, knew 
instinctively what courageous man- 
hood meant," writes the narrator. 
When Frederick Douglass turned from 
Brown after his last interview, he met 
Green and told him he could go with 
him to Roche.ster. The black man 
glanced back at the figure of his leader, 
bowed under the pain of Douglass' 
refusal, and simply asked, " Is he 
going to stay." " Yes," said Douglass, 
" Well I guess I goes wid de old man," 
was the decision. When Brown was 
in the thick of the Harper's Ferry 
fight. Green came, under fire, with a 
message to Osborne Anderson and 
Hazlett at the arsenal, when Anderson 
told him he had better retreat with 
them, " You think der's no chance, 
Osborne ?" he said. "Not one," was 
the reply. " And de old Captain 
can't get away i " " No," said 1 »oth 
men. " Well, I guess I'll go back to 
de old man." And so he went into 
the very jaws of death, and finally 
died a brave martyr's death, at (.har- 
lestown. Not last on the scroll of 
fame will be enrolled the name of 
this single-hearted freedman. 

Some other members of the Chatham 
Convention, in addition to the Browns 
and his lieutenants just described, 
were from the United States, but 
manj^ of them were then Canadian 
residents. John Brown was chosen 
Commander-in-Chief : J. H. Kagi, 
Secretary of War : Alfred W. Ells- 
worth and Osborne P. Anderson, 
Members of Congress ; Owen Brown, 
Treasurer; George B. Gill, Secretary 
of the Treasurer ; and Richard Realf, 
Secretary of State. 

Mr. J. M. Jones, Mr. Isaac Holden, 
and Mr. Hunton, were, it is thought, the 
only members of the Convention sur- 
viving, until a late date, in Canada. 
They lived in Chatham, where Messrs. 
Hunton and Holden died recently, 
Mr. Holden was a merchant and 
surveyor, and Brown resided in hii^ 
house during his visit. Mr. Jones is 
a skilled gunsmith and engraver, and 



a Justice of the Peace for his county. 
He is a native of Ealeig-li, North Caro- 
lina, and was echicated at Oberlin, 
Ohio, oraduatini^ in the class of 1849. 
Particulars of this historical event, 
stated by Mr. Jones mainly, but con- 

^. :m. .lONEs. 

tinned by Mr. Holden and Mr. Hun- 
ton, ^^'^ll be interesting. Most of 
these were committed by Mr. Jones to 
paper a few years after the Conven- 
tion was held. " Mr. P)rown," says 
Mr. Jones, "called almost daily at m^^ 
gunshop, and spoke freely of the great 
subject that lay uppermost in his 
mind. He submitted his plans, and 
only asked for tlieir appi-oval by the 
Convention." One evening the cjues- 
tion came up as to what liag should 
be u.sed ; our English coloi'ed subjects, 
who had been naturalized, .said they 
would never think of lighting under 
the hated ' Stars and Stripes.' 

" Too many of them thought they 
carried their emblem on their backs. 
But Brown said the old flag was good 
enough for him ; under it, freedom 
had been won from the tyrants of the 
old world, for white men ; now he in- 
tended to make it do duty 
for black men. He declared 
emphatically that he would 
not give up the Stars and 
Stripes. That settled the 

Some one proposed the 
admission of women as 
members, but Brown stren- 
uously opposed this, and 
warned the members not 
to intimate, even to their 
wives, what was done. 

During one of the sit- 
tings, Mr. Jones had the 
floor, and discussed the 
chances of the success or 
failure of the slaves rising 
to support the plan pro- 
posed. Mr. Brown's scheme 
was to fortify some place 
in the mountains, and call 
the slaves to rally under his 
colors. Jones expi-essed 
fear that he w'ould be 
disappointed, because the 
slaves did not know 
enough to rally to his 
support. The American 
slaves, Jones argued, were 
different from those of 
the West India island of San Dom- 
ingo, whose successful uprising is 
matter of history, as they had there 
imbibed some of the impetuous char- 
acter of their French masters, and 
were not so over-awed by white men. 
" Mr. Brown, no doubt thought," says 
Mr. Jones, " that I was making an im- 
pression on some of the members, if 
not on him, for he arose suddenly and 
i-emarked, ' Friend Jones, you will 
))lease say no more on that side. 
There will be plenty to defend that 
side of the question.' A general laugh 
took place. 

" One day in my shop I told liiui 


how utterly hopeless his plans would 
be it" he persisted in making an attack 
with the few at his command, and 
that we coidd not afford to spare 
white men of his stamp, ready to sa- 
crifice their lives for the salvation of 
black men. While I was speaking, 
Mr. Brown walked to and fro, with 
his hands behind his l)ack, as was his 
custom when thinking on his favorite 
subject. He stopped suddenly, and 
bringing down his right hand with 
great force, exclaimed : ' Did not my 
Master Jesus Christ come down from 
Heaven and sacrifice Himself upon the 
altar for the salvation of 
the race, and should I, a 
worm, not worthy to crawl 
under his feet, refuse to 
sacrifice myself ? ' With a 
look of determination he re- 
sumed his walk. 

" In all the conversations 
I had with him during his 
stay in Chatham of nearly 
a month, 1 never once saw 
a smile light up his coun- 
tenance. He seemed to be 
always in deep and earnest 

" J. E. Cook worked with 
me a month, cleaning and 
repairing the revolvers and 
other arms beloncjinsf to the 
party. During this time he 
told me that while they 
were in Kansas fighting the 
Border Ruffians, Brown's 
son Frederick was killed. 
' When we arrived,' said 
Cook, 'we found the young- 
man lying dead on the road. 
He was going to a barn on 
his uncle's farm when he 
fell, riddled with bullets. 
The old man looked on his 
dead boy for a moment, 
then raising his eyes heaven- 
ward, said, ' B3' the Eternal, 
now they have done it, and from this 
forward they will pay for it.' This 
event had a fixed and lasting effect 
on Mr. Brown ; and from this time 

on I never saw a smile on his face. 
■' A (j[uestion as to the time for mak- 
ing the attack came up in the Con- 
vention. Some advocated that we 
should wait until the United States 
became involved in war with some 
first-class power ; that it would be next 
to madness to plunge into a strife for 
the abolition of slavery while the 
Government was at peace with other 
nations. Mr. Brown listened to the 
argument for some time, then slowly 
arose to his full height, and said : ' Mr. 
Chairman, I am no traitor ; I would be 
the last one to take advantage of my 


country in the face of a foreign foe.' 
He seemed to regard it as a great in- 
sult. That settled the matter in my 
mind that John Brown was not insane. 



" In his conversation during his stay 
here, he appeared intensely American. 
He never for a moment thought of 
tio-hting the United States, as such, but 
simply the defenders of slavery in the 
States. Only the ulcer, slavery, he 
would cut from the body politic. 

" ]\Ir. Brown called before the last 
meeting, and induced Mr. Jones, who 
had not attended all the sittings, to 
come to that, as the Constitution must 
be signed, and he wished his name to 
be on the roll of honor. As the paper 
was presented for signature, Brown 
said ' iNow, friend Jones, give us John 
Hancock, bold and strong.' I replied 
that I thought it would resemble 
Stephen Hopkins. The reference was 
to the difference in the two signatures 
in the American Declaration of Inde- 
pendence — the one large and bold, the 
other that of a shaking, hand. 

" John Brown, never, I think," said 
Mr. Jones, " communicated his whole 
plan, even to his immediate followers. 
In his conversations with me he led 
me to think that he intended to sacri- 
fice himself and a few of his follow- 
ers for the purpose of arousing the 
people of the North from the stupor 
they were in on this subject. He 
seemed to think such sacrifice neces- 
sary to awaken the people from the 
deep sleep that had settled upon the 
minds of the whites of the North. 
He well knew that the sacrifice of 
any number of negroes would have 
no efi'ect. What he intended to do, 
so far as I could gather from his con- 
versation, from time to time, was to 
emulate Arnold Winkelried, the Swiss 
Chieftain, when he threw himself 
upon the Austrian spearsmen, crying, 
' Make way for Liberty.' If that 
was his real object, the event that fol- 
lowed justified his design. He had 
said to another friend, ' It is nothing 
to die in a good cause, but an eternal 
disgrace to sit still in the presence 
of the barbarities of American Slav- 

The plan of campaign, as promul 
gated at Chatham, was, to use the 

mountains and swamps of Virginia as 
places into which slaves could be in- 
duced to escape, and there await the 

Kagi pointed out a chain of coun- 
ties extending through South Caro- 
lina, Georgia, Alabama and Missis- 
sippi, well fitted to receive and conceal 
refugees. \Yith the aid of Canadian 
negroes, who were expected to join in 
large numbers, these places were to be 
fortified and manned. They would so 
become centres of moral force, and 
strategic points from which, in time, 
attacks could be made and reprisals 

The Constitution adopted was in- 
tended as a framework for organiza- 
tion. Brown had proposed to found 
several schools in which to train young 
men in military tactics, and especially 
in rifle practice. One of these was 
to be at Chatham, and Mr. C. Whipple 
(Stevens) was to be drill instructor. 
Mr. Brown did not over-estimate the 
state of education of the colored peo- 
ple. He knew that they would need 
leaders, and require training. His 
great hope was that the struggle 
would be supported by volunteers 
from Canada, educated and accus- 
tomed to self-government. He looked 
on our fugitives as picked men of 
sufficient intelligence, which, com- 
bined with a hatred to the South, 
would make them wiling abettors of 
any enterprise destined to free their 

There wei-e some earnest abolition- 
ists in Canada, who, while they 
admired his braverj^ and self-devotion, 
yet doubted the wisdom of his plan. 
Among these were the Hon. George 
Brown, of the Toronto Globe, who 
regarded his namesake as of too Quix- 
otic a tj^pe, and the Rev. W. King, of 
Buxton, who was approached for his 
sanction, but declined to attend the 

His influence would have been of 
weight with his colored friends and 
former pupils in obtaining recruits. 
It was soon found that the proceed- 


iugs at Chatham had been marie 
known to the pro-slavery rulers at 
VVashincrton. News of the massacre 
of the Marais ties Cygnes was the 
cause of Brown's speedy return to 
Kansas, so that the plan which he 
had in contemplation in Canada, the 
attack on Harper's Ferry, and the in- 
citing of the blacks in Virginia to 
rise, was laid aside till October, 1859. 
The raid into Missouri, the " battle of 
the spurs," and the carrying of the 
rescued slaves to Windsor, already 
described, took place meanwhile. Cap- 
tain Brown, in time, laid aside his 
scheme of forming a place of refuge, 
and working out from it, and adopted' 
the more daring plan of seizing the 
United States' arsenal at Harper's 
Ferry in Virginia: and so striking 
terror into the slave power liy show- 
ing that its stronghold might be 
broken into, and assaults successfully 
made at its most ancient and central 
domain, as well as in outlying Mis- 
souri. Large supplies of guns, pikes 
and ammunition were purchased, and 
stealthily conveyed to the Kennedy 
farm, a short distance from the Ferry. 
This quiet place was rented for the 
purpose, and here Brown and his fol- 
lowers gathered. The sum of $1,500 
was furnished by Mr. George L. 
Stearns, of Boston, and spent in pro- 
curing supplies, and otherwise prepar- 
ing for the contemplated attack. Pap- 
ers showing exactly how this money 
was spent, and that it was used in the 
manner intended by the donors, are in 
the hands of Dr. Ross. Attacks on 
Brown's character have recently been 
made in regard to this fund by some 
who think it manly to bark" at the 
dead lion. While such slanders can- 
not reach him, they are sorely felt by 
worthy members of Brown's family 
and personal friends still living, whose 
reverential love is unabated, and who 
know of a certainty that the old war- 
rior's honor rests as unsullied a.s his 
courage is undisputed. 

The cut of pike and gun given ex- 
actly represents those used at Harp- 


ers Ferry, and is taken from weai)()nH 
in ])r. Ross' possession. 

On the tenth of October, 1859, 
Brown's plans for attack were com- 
plete. About this time. Dr. Ross re- 
ceived the following note : — 


Oct. 6th, 1859. 
Dear Frikxi.— I shall moct about the end 
of this month. Can you help the cause in 
the way )) .\ddress your reply t« 
Isaac Smith, Chambersburg, Penn. 
Vour friend, 

John Brown. 

The town of Harper's Ferry is about 
tifty-three miles north-west from 
Washington, at the confluence of the 
Shenandoah with the Potomac. The 
Blue Ridge of the Alleghanies rises 
grandly on one side The Baltimore and 
Ohio railway spans the Potomac here. 
It was the site of the United States 
arnioury and arsenal, and witnessed 
various struggles during the late civil 
war. It was against this unsuspect- 
ing stronghold that the wild move- 
ment was to be made. 

As organized, on paper, by Brown, 
his force was to be divided into four 
companies, each composed of seventy- 
two officers and men. Each company 
was to be subdivided into corporal - 
guards of seven men each, with their 
subaltern. Two such bands made a sec- 
tion of sixteen men, under a sergeant. 
While^ at the Kennedy farm. Brown 
and Kagi were visited by Fredeiick 
Douglass, who was informed of the in- 
tention of taking the Ferry and arsenal. 
He opposed it with all the arguments 
at his command, but found that Brown 
was not to be shaken from his pur- 
pose. "Our talk was long and earnest," 
said Douglass. " We spent the most of 
Saturday and a part of Sunday in this 
debate, — Brown for Harper's Ferry; 
and I against it ; I for the policy of 
gradually drawing off" the slaves to the 
mountains, as at first suggested and 
proposed by him." Brown was im- 
movable and Mr. Douglass left, after 
a friendly parting, never to see the old 
hero again. 

W hen the attack was made, only 



twenty-two men had enlisted at the 
Kennedy farm, of whom Shields Green, 
Dangerfield Newby, John A. Cope- 
land, Osborne P. Anderson, W. H. 
Leary, and J(^hn Andfrson, were col- 
ored men. 

The affair of the 1 7th ( )ctobei-, 1 .S59, 
is now a matter of history. It relates 
that Brown with his little company, 
actually captured the Ferry and ar- 
senal, and sent a thrill of fear through 
the whole south. In Virginia, the loss 
in the value of slaves, till then, but 
never since, a staple propertj^ was es- 
timated to be ten millions of dollars, 
and nearly a (juarter of a million more 
was spent by the frightened authori- 
ties in (]uelling the criwafe and pro- 
viding safe-guards. Brown's two sons, 
Watson and Oliver, fell, fighting 
bravely. The leader himself, after a 
fearless attack and defence, fell into 
the hands of the State. Colonel, after- 
wards the famous General, Robert E. 
Lee, came with a regiment of soldiers, 
to avert the danger and guard the 
commonwealth. Wilkes Booth, who 
assassinated President Lincoln, was 
there in the ranks. Then followed, at 
Charlestown Court House, the trial of 
the leader, and of those who were 
taken with him ; the conviction on 
the charge of treason, and the execu- 
tion — from whose terrors our hero did 
not flinch. 

Nowhere was the news received 
with more intense or sadder interest 
than in Chatham. From the day of 
the attack until the fatal :^nd of De- 
cember following, meetings for |)ra3'er 
and consultation were held continu- 
ously. Earnest eulogiums upon the 
character of the departed hero were 
delivered on the evening of the day of 
his execution, by J. M. Bell, and J. H. 
Harris, who had been membei-s of the 
Convention. The same issue of the 
Provincial Freeman that chronicles 
this tells of thirty-six persons who 
had been driven from Kentucky to 
Northern Territor3% for the crime of 
sympathizing with the Charlestown 

They were the precursors of many 
whom the civil war was destined, 
within a few months, to drive to Can- 
adian shelter, ])()litical refugees, such 
as ( u'neral John C. Breckenridge, and 
Hon. Jacob I'hompson, and " skedad- 
dlers," by the hundreds, as those were 
called, who thus escaped military en- 
rolment. Many of these remained 
until the end of the war, and some are 
here still. 

The interval in prison was cheer- 
fully spent. To a friend he wrote, 
"I am (|uite cheerful. Men cannot 
imprison, or chain, or bind the soul. 
I go joyfully, in behalf of those mil- 
lions that ' have no rights,' that this 
great and glorious — this Christian Re- 
public 'is Itound to respect.' " 

Captain Brown's last act, before be- 
ing led from prison, was to visit the 
cells of his fellow-captives and cheer 
them. He had imparted to these poor 
people much of his own brave spirit. 
He had a power to so influence those 
with him that they followed him with 
a reverential love, exceeding that of 
Ruth to Naomi, nor did -Any of them 
shrink from sacrifice ; though Capt. 
Kagi and Brown's sons saw the great 
dangers, and had urged the hopeless- 
ness of moving before tlie ranks were 

It was not expected that the blow 
would be struck till the 24th of Octo- 
ber. The precipitation of the attack, 
on the 1 7th, was caused by Brown's 
fear of betrayal by a Judas. The 
smallness of the band, and the fact 
that most of them had military titles, 
show that they were intended simply 
as the nucleus of the formidable force 
that Blown expected to join in the 

When he ascended the scaffold, on 
the 2nd of December, 1850, at Char- 
lestown, it was with no faltering step. 
He stood erect and looked finnly dow^n 
on the lines of soldiery that surround- 
ed him. He met his end as one who 
had done his duty, as he saw it, and 
feai'ed not that which was to coniQ 
after. We can say of him, as of Sam- 



son, "The dead which he slew at his treasure. He sleeps in the lilessing 

death, were more than they which he oi* the slave." 

.slew in his life." Colonel Lee and Garibaldi, liberator of Italy, writing 

Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, who looked from his Caprera home, declared tliat 

on, and were soon valiantly hghting "John Brown was the instiuniental 

as generals for the South, did not then precursor of the liberty of the slave." 

see that our hero conquered more than The engine hall to which Brown 

death : that the monster slavery then and some of his men retired, and 

received a grievous wound which all where they were taken at last, wa,s 

their bravery could not avert or cure, carried to the Chicago World's Exposi- 

Victor Hugo, in referring to this per- 

tion of 189)i, and there seen by many 

The fate of some only of those 
who were at the Chatham Con- 
vention is known. Martin R. 
Delaney, M. D., became a Major 
of the l()4th regiment colored 
troops, and a Commissioner of 
the U. S. Bureau of Refugees, 
and in 186(S publislied an inter- 
esting biography of his life and 
times. Capt. Kagi fell in the 
Shemandoali, riddled with bul- 
lets. Capt. J. E. Cook, Cope- 
land, the young mulatto, and 
Chas. Whipple (Aaron D. Stev- 
ens), were taken prisoners at 
the Ferry, and were tried and 
executed at Charlestown. All 
of them died like the brave men 
they were, some days after their 
leader. Richard Realf agreed to 
be at the contest, but failed to be 
present, having gone to Eng- 
land. Osborne P. Anilerson 
returned to ('hatham after the 
iod, wrote, " What the South slew last attiay. He was proceeding to the 
December, was not John Brown, but scene of action with a load of pikes, 

Slavery Slavery in all its thinking Bi-own held the arsenal. 

forms will disappear." Discovering his mistake, and seeing 

Brown's body was caii'ied to his marines approaching, he tied and es 


loved home in the Adirondacks. Wen 
dell Phillips made a eulogy at his 
grave. " John BiH)wn," he said, " has 
loosened the roots oF slavery. It may 
gasp, but it is dead. He said he could 
take the town with twenty men, and 
he did it. How sultlime tiiat last fort- 
night ! His words ai"e stronger than 
tiw.n his rifles. crushed a State ; 
those will y»^t crush Slavery. 'J'he 

caped. Owen Brown also, foreseeing 
the result, escaped to the woods. He 
lived for some years afterwards in 
Ohio, then settled, with others of his 
father's family, at Pasadena, in Cali- 
fornia, where he recently died. He 
was a man of considerable ability and 
mental resources, and was brave and 

Dr. Ross had, at John Browns le- 

echoes of his rifl«;s have died away quest, gone to Richmond, and, being 
among the hills: his words, millions there at the time of the attack, was 



arrested, but not long detained. As 
the day for his old friend's execution 
came on, he went to Harper's Ferr}^ 
and applied for peiinission to go to 
Charlestown, but the officer in command 
ordered him to leave, and sent him 
under guard to Baltimore, calling to 
the captain in charge, " Captain, if he 
returns to Harpei-'s Ferry, shoot him 
at once." The intrepid doctor then 
went to Governor Wise at Richmond, 
and, after an interview, related in his 
little volume, " Recollections and Ex- 
periences of an Abolitionist," the Gov- 
ernor refused him permission, and 
when he asked for a permit to leave 
the State, wrote on a card, " The bear- 
er is hereby ordered to leave the State 
of Virginia within twenty-four hours, 
— Henry A. Wise." Dr. Ross, finding 
it impossible to see his old friend once 
more, wrote a farewell letter to John 
Brown, and received the answer al- 
ready given. 

Dr. Ross has ever since kept up an 
affectionate correspondence with the 
members of John Bi'own's family. 
From two letters received by him, we 
have been allowed to make extracts. 
The first is from his eldest daughter : 

I know luy dear father ]()\ed you, and it 
is but natural tliat his children should love 
you. For your dev<ition to father, and tlie 
interest you have shown in his children, my 
heart goes out gratefully. 

Ruth Brown Thompson. 

Pasadena, California, Dec. 30th, 1892 

The second is from his youngest 
daughter : 

May the (iod that .John Bi'own believed in 
and trusted l)less you and yours, for yotir to his sick and helpless daughters. 
This (the aid sent) will keeji my children 
from going hungry. 

Annie Brown Ait.\Ms. 

Petrolia, California, Jan. 7th, 1893. (a) 

(a) The Rev. O. B. Frothingham in his life of tierrit 
Smith, says: "Alexander M. Ross, of Canada, whose re- 
markable exploits in running off slaves, caused such con- 
bternation in the Southern States, was in conimuniofttion 
with Gerrit Smith from first to last, was aided bj him in 
his preparation with information and counsel, and had a 
close understanding with him in regard to his course of 
procedure. Both these men made the rescue of slaves a 
I)ersonal matter." To a very few of his New York and 
I'hiladcliibia friends, I>r. Ross was known by his name, 
but the (Quakers knew him as "The Helper," Emerson 
and his Boston iissociates as " The Canadian Knight." 
The colored people called him "Moses" and " The Help- 
er." Other names were adopted as emergencies and safety 

Two Canadians fell at Harper's 
Ferry. William H. Lehman, who 
had been the youngest member of 
the Chatham Convention, was shot 
and killed, after surrendering, by 
Shoppart, a militiaman. Steward 
Taylor was a fellow-countryman of 
Lehman's. Both were natives of 
the township of ftlarkham, near To- 
ronto, as Dr. Ross informs me, but 
Mr. Hinton gives Maine as the lat- 
ter's birth-place, and his name as 

Richard Richai'dson was a Missouri 
slave, rescued by Brown. He is since 
dead. Some of the other members of 
the Convention are yet living in the 
L^nited States. Since the decease of 
Messrs. Hunton and Holden, Mr. Jones 
is, as stated, the only survivor in Can- 
ada. They did not go to Virginia. 
Mr. Jones and Mr. Holden had then 
gone on a visit to the Pacific Coast. 
Mr. J. Madison Bell was a writer of 
ability, who lived for a time in St. 
Catharines and Chatham, and then 
settled in Toledo, Ohio. Ira D. Shadd 
and his brother Isaac, Chatham boys, 
removed to the South, and both of 
them became men of prominence. 
James H. Harris was a representative 
in Congress from North Carolina. 

Some refer to the taking of Forts 
Moultrie and Castle Pinkney, or to the 
attack on Fort Sumter by the Confed- 
eracy, as the first blows of the late 
civil wai'. Others find in the Harper's 
FeiTy affair, the initial outbreak, the 
bursting forth of the fire which had 
been long angrily smouldering on the 
south-western boi-dei"Sof the Common- 
wealth. Few will, in the light of his- 
tory, deny that in tlie little school- 
house and engine hall of Chatham, the 
train was laid that fired the mine, 
whence resvdted the overthrow of the 
])i'oud Southern oligarchy. 

'I'he presiding genius of the Chat- 
ham Convention was the soul which 
soon after animated thousands of 
Union soldiers, as tliey fought for 
their country, and brought joy and 
freedom to the bondmen. When the 



men moved on, under Grant and Sher- 
man and Sheridan, the memory of the 
old hero's pious valor cheered their 
hearts, and roused to euuilation of his 
bravery, as they marched, they sang : 

John Brown died that the slave might be 

free ; 
John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the 

But his soul is marching on." 


Copy of the letter from Brown, using name 
of Mr. Bell, after the Convention : 

Chatham, Canada West, 

May 21 st, 1858. 

Deak Son and Other Friends All — The 
letters of three of your number are received, 
dated the 16th, by which we learn the diffi- 
culty you find in getting employment. It 
seems that all but three have managed to 
stop their board bills, and I do hope the bal- 
ance will follow the maulilce and noble exam- 
ple of patience and perseverance set them by 
the others, instead of being either discour- 
aged or out of humor. The weather is so 
wet here that no work can be obtained. I 
have only received $15 from the east, and 
.such has been the effect of the course taken 
by F. (Col. Forbes), on our eastern friends, 
that I have some fears that we shall be com- 
pelled to delay further action for the present. 
They (his Eastern friends) urge us to do so, 
promising us liberal assistance after a while. 
I am in liourly expectation of help sufficient 
to pay off our board bills here, and to take us 
on to Cleveland, to see and advise with you, 
which we shall do at once when we get the 
means. Suppose we do have to defer our 
direct efforts, shall great and noble minds 
either indulge in useless com])laint, or fold 
their arms in discouragement, f)r sit in idle- 
ness, when we may at least avoid losing 
ground. It is in times of difficulty that men 
show what they are ; it is in such times that 
men mark themselves. Are our difficulties 
such as to make us give up one of the m iblest 
entei'prisoK in which men ever were en- 
gaged 1 

Write .Iames M. Bell, 
Your Sincere Friend. 

The following letter was received bj' the 

author from Mr. John Brown, Jr., with a 
photograph of his father given : 

PuT-iN-BAY, Ottawa Co., 

Ohio, Aug 4th. 
J. C. Hamilton, Esw., 

Toronto, Canada. 

Dear Sir — Yours of the 6th July enclos- 
ing manuscript, came duly, but illness had 
prevented an earlier reply. Have read the 
articles you sent with deep interest, and most 
sincerely do I thank you for sending thejn. 
Wish it were in my power to 
add anything which would give 
additional interest to your 
story of my father's career in 
Canada. 'J'he account \ou have 
given of it is ably written, and 
shows that true (tppreheit^iou 
of hifi real character, which in 
my view gives great value to 
your paper. 
The C. Whipple referred to (whose real 
name is Aaron D. Stevens), accompanied 
father and Kagi at the time the 12 slaves 
(Sam. Harper being one), were taken from 
Missouri through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, 
Illinois and Michigan into Canada. He was 
at the ccmvention you describe ; was at Har- 
per's Ferry, and was subsequently executed 
at Charlestown. Va. 

Father was only about live feet ten and 
one half inches in height, and not so bi-oad- 
shouldered as many have represented him. 
His weight was about 1.^0 lbs. ; he was mus- 
cular and active, and had uncommon endur- 
ance, physical and mental. The de8cri})tion 
of him, as without a beard, would apply to 
him only up to the last two or three years of 
his life, when he ceased to shave. His beard 
was white, his hair iron-grey. With your 
valuable paper, which I return to you by to- 
morrow's mail, I send you a photograph of 
my father, copied from a copy of the oi iginal 
which he gave to me at Andover, Ashtabula 
Co., Ohio, June 18th, 1859, when on his way 
to Harper's Ferry. This is an excellent pic- 
ture, showing him with full beard as it was at 
the time of his execution, December 2nd, 1859. 
Please accept, with the sincere regards of 
Faithfully yours, 

John Brown, Jk. 

Authorities referred to : 

The Public Life of John Brown. Ky 
James Redpath, 186U. 

Life and Letters of John Brown, liberator 
of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia. By F. 
B. Sanborn, 1885. 

John Brown and His Men. By Richard 
J. Hinton, artirle in Frank L»'.slie's Monthly, 
June, 1880. 

Book by same autlnir, under same title. 
Funk it Wagnalls Co , 18!>4. 

Original papers in possession of Dr. A. M. 
Ross, Toronto. 




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